Jangle Pop is a sound characterized by undistorted, treble-heavy electric guitars played in a droning chordal style (by strumming or arpeggiating) to create a bright evocative style.
Despite forerunners such as the Searchers and the Everly Brothers, the Beatles and the Byrds are commonly credited with launching the popularity of jangle. The name derives from the lyric “in the jingle-jangle morning, I’ll come following you” from the Byrds’ 1965 rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man”.
In the 1980s, the most prominent bands of early indie rock were jangle groups such as R.E.M. and the Smiths. Around this time, the term “jangle pop” was sometimes conflated with “college rock”.
This was the alternative rock music played on student-run university and college campus radio stations located in the United States and Canada in the 1980s. The stations’ playlists were often created by students who avoided the mainstream rock played on commercial radio stations.
The bands of this category combined the experimentation of post-punk and new wave with a more melodic pop style and an underground sensibility. Artists as diverse as R.E.M., U2, The Cure, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Camper Van Beethoven, The Smiths, XTC, The Smithereens, The Replacements, 10,000 Maniacs, and Pixies became some of the better-known examples by the close of the 1980s.
By the 1990s, the use of the term “college rock” for this style of music was largely replaced with the terms “alternative” and “indie rock”.